Out to Wreck Your Economy & Punish the Poor & Vulnerable? Try Intermittent Wind & Solar

A generation or so back, the ‘green’ was a well-meaning tree-hugger. Then along came CO2 gas which resulted in a new shade of ‘green’.

Gone was any vestige of human empathy, let alone compassion, both replaced by a maniacal belief that humans are literally ‘cockroaches’, devouring planet Earth.

Instead of hoping to improve the environment to benefit fellow humans, the new ‘green’ is determined to destroy free-market democracy, from within. The key is always and everywhere, energy. Want to destroy an economy in a generation, then the deprive it of reliable and affordable power.

Australia, hitherto an energy superpower, blessed with enormous reserves of coal, gas and uranium, now pays the highest power prices in the world and is – through the wind ‘powered’ State of South Australia – also renowned for routine blackouts, when wind power output collapses – which have affected tens of thousands and even blacked out the entire State.

STT is all in favour of the environment and minimising harm to it, for the very obvious reason that all of us occupy this giant blue orb and, like good house keepers, we’re bound to keep the joint neat and tidy.

STT doesn’t weigh into the battle about carbon dioxide gas, but is pretty certain that a naturally occurring, beneficial trace gas is not ‘pollution’. If it was, each and every one of us should be hit with a ‘cleanup order’ from the EPA, every single time we exhale.

When you’re listening to those who fervently extol the virtues of wind turbines and solar panels, don’t be afraid to hear them out. Let them continue to their logical conclusion, and you’ll soon realise that your interlocutor isn’t really interested in the environment, at all.

The true zealot is equipped with an equally fervent ability to ‘explain’ away the pointless slaughter of millions of birds and bats; the wanton destruction of their habitats; the torturous impact of incessant low-frequency noise and infra-sound on wind farm neighbours; the destruction of underground water supplies; the toxic waste generated in the production of the magnets used in the turbines; the toxic blades being dumped in land-fill; and a litany of other negatives as being all for the greater good.

Sure, some of those matters really only affect a few, and the modern ‘green’ works on the basis that he’s out to save the many. Perhaps, at this point, you’re not wholly convinced that your antagonist is a neo-Marxist, in disguise?

The ‘reveal’ (as they put it in reality TV shows) comes when the RE advocate tackles the topic of power prices. The connection between rocketing power prices and subsidised, intermittent and unreliable wind and solar is pretty obvious. Although, the true zealot denies even that connection, claiming it’s all a fossil-fuelled, capitalist conspiracy.

Poke the bear at this point, and you’ll find a character who couldn’t care less about the fact that thousands of his compatriots cannot afford electricity, now; and that hundreds of millions across the planet, will never enjoy electricity, should his mandate be fully effected. These are the people keen to deliberately deprive the poorest billion or so of the Earth’s inhabitants of power; instead, popping a few solar panels on the roof of an impoverished village and claiming ‘mission accomplished’. After the ‘do-gooders’ have left, the villagers continue to cook using twigs and dung, and regard the fleeting and time-dependent power supplied as ‘fake’ electricity.

Having peeled back the onion, what you’re faced with is a maniacal zealot who, supremely confident in his worldview, has nothing but malevolence and contempt for his fellow humans.

Now and again, we get comments from this class of character, which often include talk about reducing the planet’s population. STT’s cheeky (but not disingenuous) retort is to ask whether this apparently concerned citizen of the world, is making an offer to reduce the crowd by exactly one. We’ve yet to find anyone ready to make the supreme and immediate sacrifice, by removing themselves as one of those planet devouring cockroaches, in order to save it.

Call us old-fashioned, but STT was brought up to believe that every living human being has a place in the world, and that every living human being has a moral responsibility to the other. That responsibility extends to seeing every one of Earth’s inhabitants has the opportunity to live healthier, meaningful lives; and to prevent misery and suffering among them, to the extent of our powers to do so.

Caring for a healthy environment sits pretty comfortably with that ethic, provided always that it’s about creating a healthy environment for all human beings.

One of the miracles of human existence was the mastery of electricity; and in the civilised West that miracle extended to the provision of reliable power to the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

Lighting and heating homes, cooking meals and providing light entertainment through radio and television, was a mission that started in the early 20th century. Two decades into the 21st, and places such as Germany and Australia are witnessing a regression to a time when thousands of households had no access to electricity at all. And yet this is the path being pushed by so-called ‘progressives’. Well, STT doesn’t think that this is any kind of progress. And, we’re not alone.

One of America’s top greens, is Michael Shellenberger.

Michael has graced these pages previously, simply because he is gifted with an ethical approach to his brand of environmentalism; concerned about rocketing power prices, he clearly doesn’t believe he’s surrounded by herds of human cockroaches. While he views CO2 gas emissions as a threat to the climate, he treats intermittent and heavily subsidised wind and solar with contempt. Whereas the faux-green points to windmills and solar panel as the ultimate solution to the world’s perceived climate woes, Shellenberger points out that the only true solution to CO2 emissions in the electricity generation sector is nuclear power: America’s Top Green – Michael Shellenberger – Pushes Nuclear Future & Calls Wind & Solar ‘The Worst for the Enviroment’

To business and industry, reliable and affordable electricity dictate profits and the ability to provide meaningful employment. To the poor, affordable electricity means the difference between dignity and misery.

Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” Green Book Award Winner, and President of Environmental Progress, a research and policy organization. He is one of the USA’s leading environmental activist (not some fossil-fuel advocate), and he’s also running for governor of California. Here’s what he has to say about the cause of rocketing power prices.

How Solar And Wind Are Causing Electricity Prices To Skyrocket
Watts Up With That?
Michael Schellenberger
24 April 2018

Over the last year, the media have published story after story after story about the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines.

People who read these stories are understandably left with the impression that the more solar and wind energy we produce, the lower electricity prices will become.

And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per watt declined by 75 percent while the price of wind turbines per watt declined by 50 percent.

And yet — during the same period — the price of electricity in places that deployed significant quantities of renewables increased dramatically.

Electricity prices increased by:

What gives? If solar panels and wind turbines became so much cheaper, why did the price of electricity rise instead of decline?

One hypothesis might be that while electricity from solar and wind became cheaper, other energy sources like coal, nuclear, and natural gas became more expensive, eliminating any savings, and raising the overall price of electricity.

But, again, that’s not what happened.

The price of natural gas declined by 72 percent in the U.S. between 2009 and 2016 due to the fracking revolution. In Europe, natural gas prices dropped by a little less than half over the same period.

The price of nuclear and coal in those place during the same period was mostly flat.

Another hypothesis might be that the closure of nuclear plants resulted in higher energy prices.

Evidence for this hypothesis comes from the fact that nuclear energy leaders Illinois, France, Sweden and South Korea enjoy some of the cheapest electricity in the world.

Since 2010, California closed one nuclear plant (2,140 MW installed capacity) while Germany closed 5 nuclear plants and 4 other reactors at currently-operating plants (10,980 MW in total).

Electricity in Illinois is 42 percent cheaper than electricity in California while electricity in France is 45 percent cheaper than electricity in Germany.

But this hypothesis is undermined by the fact that the price of the main replacement fuels, natural gas, and coal, remained low, despite increased demand for those two fuels in California and Germany.

That leaves us with solar and wind as the key suspects behind higher electricity prices. But why would cheaper solar panels and wind turbines make electricity more expensive?

The main reason appears to have been predicted by a young German economist in 2013.

In a paper in Energy Policy, Leon Hirth estimated that the economic value of wind and solar would decline significantly as they become a larger part of electricity supply.

The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.

Solar and wind thus require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California, and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

Hirth predicted that the economic value of wind on the European grid would decline 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity while the value of solar would drop by 50 percent when it got to just 15 percent.

In 2017, the share of electricity coming from wind and solar was 53 percent in Denmark, 26 percent in Germany, and 23 percent in California. Denmark and Germany have the first and second most expensive electricity in Europe.

By reporting on the declining costs of solar panels and wind turbines but not on how they increase electricity prices, journalists are — intentionally or unintentionally — misleading policymakers and the public about those two technologies.

The Los Angeles Times last year reported that California’s electricity prices were rising, but failed to connect the price rise to renewables, provoking a sharp rebuttal from UC Berkeley economist James Bushnell.

“The story of how California’s electric system got to its current state is a long and gory one,” Bushnell wrote, but “the dominant policy driver in the electricity sector has unquestionably been a focus on developing renewable sources of electricity generation.”

Part of the problem is that many reporters don’t understand electricity. They think of electricity as a commodity when it is, in fact, a service — like eating at a restaurant.

The price we pay for the luxury of eating out isn’t just the cost of the ingredients most of which, like solar panels and wind turbines, have declined for decades.

Rather, the price of services like eating out and electricity reflect the cost not only of a few ingredients but also their preparation and delivery.

This is a problem of bias, not just energy illiteracy. Normally skeptical journalists routinely give renewables a pass. The reason isn’t that they don’t know how to report critically on energy — they do regularly when it comes to non-renewable energy sources — but rather because they don’t want to.

That could — and should — change. Reporters have an obligation to report accurately and fairly on all issues they cover, especially ones as important as energy and the environment.

A good start would be for them to investigate why, if solar and wind are so cheap, they are making electricity so expensive.
Watts Up With That?

Michael Schellenberger: not your average ‘green’.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. mikeo28 says:

    In Australia data is kept by the AEMO on all generators dispatching power to the eastern grid. It is fairly detailed in that a snapshot is taken every five minutes. I am a retired analyst/programmer who has taken an interest in that data. Using it I can explain quite simply why wind power costs more.

    In 2017 the established wind generators dispatching to the grid amounted to 4692 MW. It may be news to some but wind does not blow all the time and in fact the capacitive factor was a bit short of 28%. Also in this data it can be seen that the capacitive factor of coal using the dispatch data was 70%. This means that a coal-fired power station of about 1.8 GW would replace our whole wind farm installation. The 70% for coal is a low figure compared to what it could produce because of government regulation resulting in strictures to their operation. Wind here in Australia is mandated that anything it produces must be accepted.

    There is a recent wind power station being built. The cost of Hornsdale SA is $800 million for 315 MW. This means that excluding all else the cost of 4692 MW of wind will cost nearly $12 billion. There has also been a recent discussion in Australia about the cost of a new coal-fired power station the figure given is $2.2 billion for a 1000 MW. So the sums show that to replace our entire wind power installation with coal would cost a little over $4 billion. Coal power stations last about 50 years wind 25 years so the equivalent for wind is more like $24 billion. Would it not be insane to think that this is going to produce cheaper electricity?

    There are other factors as well which should be giving people nightmares. The Australian wind generators on the eastern grid are spread over four states. South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and even across the Bass Straight in Tasmania, this it is a huge area but yet on 11 May in 2017 they were producing nothing for two hours. Output is often very low it went below 5% on 73 days in 2017. One last point is that it is obvious when analysing the data wind is seasonal, it tapers off significantly in the winter months. I should say energy generated from it, either it is a case that there is no wind or maybe there is too much.

  2. william gray says:

    I’ve always found the views and reporting from STT are largely accurate and most laudable. However I strongly disagree re STT’s position concerning population. Sure, keep population levels healthy by replacing ourselves by having one or two children-this is fine. The real issue is the RATE of increase ie. a doubling from 3.5 billion in 1971 to now pushing 8 billion. Now that’s scary considering it took tens of thousands of years to reach even 1.5 billion in mid 19th century. If now 2 billion don’t have access to clean drinking water and are willed to endless poverty there is something seriously wrong. You can’t just blame everything on politics and wars. Resources depletion, environmental degredation of land and sea and increasing rates of species extinction are ALL the cause of our inability to address what will increasingly be a salient issue. I agree strongly that nuclear is the way forward for secure and affordable power for all and that wind turbines are a cancerous farce.

    • Population growth rates rapidly diminish as incomes increase (witness Germany and Japan, with negative natural growth rates). The only way to reduce population growth rates is economic development, central to which is cheap and reliable electricity. This is the path that China is on, incomes are rising, displacing poverty and over time population growth rates are guaranteed to slow. These are simple laws of economics, without exception.

      • People in poor third world countries only have lots of children because (1) it’s certain that some or most of their kids will die before reaching adulthood (2) they need adult children to take care of the parents when the parents get old.

        Third world countries have no social welfare systems to take care of old folks. Either you have money and pay someone to take care of you in your old age, or you have your children take of you. So there is a need to have lots of children. As societies become more affluent and infant mortality is slashed due to public health and modern medical care, the need to have lots of children disappears. With more wealth people can save for their retirement years. Children aren’t needed to take care of aged parents.

        Result? The birthrates tumble. And the birthrates are tumbling so much in affluent countries (e.g., Japan and northern Europe), that the number one problem for these countries is their shrinking populations and explosion in the proportion of their population that need care in their old age. Just look at Japan–on top of their aging population, they have an enormous problem with old people with dementia.

        The only thing that will save Japan is for the Japanese to start having babies!!! It’s a complete fallacy to assume that birthrates stay fixed as a country becomes developed and wealthy!

      • Precisely the point of our comment, but you have better expressed it. Poverty does much more damage than prosperity.

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